Tech Tips Home
The Best Tech Tips And Daily Deals
Newsletter On The Internet!

WorldStart Tech Tip And Store Search
Email: Password: Login Remember Me
looking for freeware

Like what you see here? Subscribe to the Tech Tips newsletter!   Email: Subscribe

Wiping A Hard Drive to Upgrade


James from Taylor, Al is looking to upgrade an old XP PC.  He writes: “If you have a older computer can the hard drive be cleaned like it was when the computer was first made and to be able to install Windows 8 or 8.1? Thank you.”

Hi, James.  Thanks for the great question.

There are two different answers here, because I think that you’re asking two different questions.  The first question is can your hard drive be wiped to a like-new condition, and the second question is how can you upgrade from XP to 8?


The answer to the first question is yes, you can certainly wipe your hard drive completely.  As it sounds like you already know, simply deleting a file does not wipe it off of your drive, it merely marks it as data that can be overwritten.  In order for that data not to be retrievable, short of computer forensics, you will want to do something along the lines of a military-grade wipe of your drive.  I think of this as “nuking” your information.  The best is the “7 Pass” system, which writes nonsense over all of your information, then goes back and does it again six more times.


This is EXTREMELY time-consuming, to let you know, but if you want a complete wipe, that’s the best way to do it.  There are some free data wiping programs, such as Dban, which run from removable media.  They do not run from inside Windows, of course, because if you’re nuking all of your information, that will include whatever version of Windows that you’re running.

On to your second question.  To answer the question that you didn’t ask, you do not need to wipe your hard drive in order to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8.  You can simply do it as an upgrade.  Because of differences in the structure of Windows XP and Windows 8, however, you won’t be able to retain your Windows state like you could if you upgraded from say 8 to 10.

All that you’ll be able to retain is your personal files, such as your documents.  Because of this, not only should you back up your entire hard drive before performing the upgrade (always a good idea anyway), but you should also make a list of the programs that you will want to reinstall after the upgrade is complete.

Another thing that I would recommend is to run Magical Jellybean on your computer prior to doing the upgrade.  This will locate the program keys for programs like Office, to make your reinstall much easier and faster.  The free version of this program should work fine for you, but you can review the differences between the free and paid versions at

magical jellybean

If, however, you’re not going to be using the old computer, but are going to sell it or give it away, then I would recommend running the diskwipe program on it and then letting the new owner worry about installing whatever version of Windows that they want.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

Tags: , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Wiping A Hard Drive to Upgrade”

  1. Ron says:

    Good advice.

    One point you missed is that there is a good chance that the XP computer won’t meet all of the minimum requirements for Windows 10. The most likely one it won’t meet is the video support. I suppose you could add a separate video card for a reasonable price. But frankly, I wouldn’t be spending money on an XP class machine to upgrade it to run Win 10. You can literally buy new low computers with more processing power than an old XP machine for just a couple of hundred bucks. You could even plug in your existing keyboard and monitor if the ones that come with the new computer are too small.

    Here is the MS Minimum Requirements page for Win 10:

    There is a Windows Update that runs a utility to scan your hardware. But I suspect that it won’t even download on an XP machine. Here is an article that talks about it:

    I don’t know if there is a standalone utility for Win 10 to do the scan.

  2. kathy says:

    I find that I’d like to reference many of these awesome tips at another time. Short of keeping a personal library of these articles / tips, how can I locate these articles by topic on line at World Start?

    • cynthia says:

      You can search them by subject or title. If you’re using the Microsoft Edge browser, you can add them to your reading list. You could also add them to a notebook program like OneNote to read later.

Leave a Reply

Like these tips? Get them for FREE in your email!

WorldStart's Tech Tips Newsletter

  • Tech Tips Daily - Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

  • Tech Tips Weekly - If you don't want our Tech Tips newsletter every day, then sign up for this weekly newsletter to get the best information of the week. Sent on Fridays.

Other Newsletters

  • WorldStart's Daily Deals - Every week, we send out great deals in our Daily Deals newsletter. Many of these deals are exclusively for our Daily Deals newsletter subscribers and can't be found with our regular specials.

  • Just For Grins - Each issue includes a couple clean jokes, some funny quotes, and a hilarious reader's story. Newsletter is sent five days a week.

Enter Email Address:


Your e-mail address is safe with us!
We only use it to send you the newsletters you request. It is NEVER disclosed to a third party for any reason, ever! Plus, if you decided you don't like our newsletters (don't worry, you'll love them), unsubscribing is fast and easy.

Free Newsletter Signup

Tech Tips Daily

Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

Tech Tips Weekly

The week's best in tech and computer help. Get your issue sent to your email every Friday!

WorldStart's Daily Deals

The very best deals on the Internet! Get a new set of incredible sales every day of the week!

Just For Grins

Clean jokes, funny quotes, and hilarious comics. Sent 5 times a week straight to your email.


Love Worldstart? Refer A Friend!

looking for freeware
WorldStart's Premium Membership

Tip Archive